Calligraphy also a popular offering

— Ellen Davis

Carl Robertson’s annual calligraphy demonstration is a popular activity sponsored by the Association of Students Interested in Asia (ASIA).

It's 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning and 14 members of the Association of Students Interested in Asia (ASIA) have gathered in a room on the third floor of the Olin Building to learn calligraphy from Carl Robertson.

“With a little practice, you can become quite good,” Robertson tells the students.

Robertson begins by explaining that calligraphy uses six strokes to create characters that sit on square templates. The first stroke he teaches the students is “heng,” which means “one.” The stroke resembles a human bone.

“Slope and arch,” he says, trying to explain to the students how to make the ends of the stroke heavier.

While Chinese language classes are popular at Southwestern, so too are classes on calligraphy—a Chinese art form that dates back to 1600 B.C. Robertson teaches a formal calligraphy class each summer and also offers a class for members of the Asia Club each year.

Robertson explains that although most people in China write with pens, calligraphy is an integral part of the Chinese culture. “Calligraphy is a popular activity at most parties in China,” he says. “When many people write together on the same sheet of paper it forms strong bonds between them, with calligraphy as the medium.”

By the end of the class, the rolls of paper covering the table are covered with characters—many of which look quite professional. “I’m going to hang this in my room,” says club member Kim Le.